How does an FNA (Fine Needle Aspiration) biopsy on a thyroid procedure work?


Quick Answer

Fine needle aspiration of the thyroid is a procedure during which a fine gauge needle is inserted into a thyroid nodule and cells are removed for biopsy. The needle is rocked back and forth to remove a large sample of tissue, as described by MedicineNet.

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Full Answer

The process is repeated multiple times to make sure that enough samples are obtained. After the procedure the needle is removed, and pressure is applied to the thyroid for about 10 minutes. Thyroid nodules that are too small to be felt or that are difficult to biopsy require FNA to be guided by ultrasound, according to MedicineNet.

FNA is usually done without anesthesia because the needle used is very fine and the procedure produces little discomfort. The procedure does not require any preparation, and most patients are able to continue taking their daily medication, explains MedicineNet.

The samples obtained from FNA are sent to a pathologist who looks at them with a microscope to see if they are cancerous. The samples are classified as benign, malignant, suspicious or indeterminate, and a report is sent back to the doctor, according to MedicineNet.

Fine needle aspiration of the thyroid is done to help determine the cause of a thyroid nodule. It is also used to guide thyroid nodule therapy, to drain a thyroid cyst, and to inject medication into a thyroid cyst. The false-negative rate of FNA is less than 5 percent, which means that less than five out of 100 cases of thyroid cancer are missed, explains MedicineNet.

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